Should N.H. increase its minimum wage?
Live Free or Die Alliance Facebook respondents weigh in
Implemented in 1938, the federal minimum wage has grown since that time from two bits per hour to its present level of $7.25. That’s also the nadir of what hourly workers can be paid in the Granite State since, in June 2011, the Legislature overrode then-Gov. John Lynch’s veto of legislation effectively repealing the state’s own minimum wage. (A few months earlier, the New Hampshire House killed a bill that would have bumped up the state minimum wage to $8 an hour.)
Despite the previous Republican-controlled Legislature’s antipathy toward a New Hampshire-specific minimum wage, the new Democrat-dominated House has floated a pair of bills addressing the subject. One bill would set New Hampshire’s minimum wage at $8, the other calls for an hourly rate of $9.25.
So, on Jan. 28, the Live Free or Die Alliance asked its nearly 12,000 Facebook followers whether the state minimum wage should restore and raise its own minimum wage.
As of Feb. 5, we received 493 responses from 140 respondents, including 102 concurrences (“likes,” in Facebook parlance) and 37 people sharing the question and its associated image with their own Facebook friends.
Of that total, 49 percent opposed raising the minimum wage, 37 percent favored it and 14 percent either were unsure or didn’t respond directly to the question.
Among the opponents, many warned of the minimum wage’s job-killing potential and other consequences:
“The market should dictate wages,” said one man. “Raise minimum wage = fewer jobs, higher prices. … The restaurant owner will not say ‘I'll just operate at a lower margin’ He will instead say, ‘I will raise prices and/or hire fewer workers.’”
Other opponents simply saw no practical need for a minimum wage separate from the federal one.
Those who supported raising the minimum wage, however, stressed that New Hampshire and the Northeast have a higher cost of living than most other regions of the United States, so the federal level of $7.25 is insufficient as a livable rate of pay.
“No one can live on $7.25 an hour especially since most of the jobs that pay minimum are only part time,” one woman said. “This may help to get some people off assistance too.”
Within the group advocating an increase, several specified that $9.25 might be too high an hourly rate, at least initially, but supported the $8-an-hour suggestion. However, one respondent referred to a study (without attribution) putting the “livable wage” for New Hampshire at $19 an hour!
The Live Free or Die Alliance presents this report not as any sort of scientific poll or survey, but rather a digest of citizen testimony, where respondents are (to the greatest extent possible) identifiable by their real names.
As New Hampshire's Town Hall, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Live Free or Die Alliance is free and open to all, offering a unique and important mechanism for more than 14,000 community members to express their views.
John F.J. Sullivan is editor-in-chief of the Live Free or Die Alliance (nhlfda.org).